June 9


Best Cast Iron for Camping: Eatin’ and Meatin’ ;)

By Michael Bryant

June 9, 2021

Looking for the best cast iron for camping pots or skillets? You found the right place.

I love cooking with cast iron car camping and at home. Their ability to retain heat is incredible and once properly seasoned they clean easily. But only if seasoned properly. Even if the cast iron says it's pre-seasoned I always take the time to do it again. 

Here is our top 3 options to get cookin', eatin', greetin' and meatin' (unless you're vegan) and then we are veggin'!

Lifer's Choice Award for Best Dutch Oven

Lodge Dutch Oven Combo Cooker - 3.2 qt.

There is everything RIGHT about this cast iron set-up. It comes with a pot and skillet that works as a lid too! It seals tight and allows you to put coal or wood on top to make whatever delicious creation you have in mind. 

Or, you put too many spices in the soup. But either way everything tastes better when you're camping. 


  • Double sided handle to carry the heavy cast iron
  • Skillet can be used as a lid
  • Fairly well seasoned but I did an extra few rounds
  • Really Affordable

Pro-sumer Lifer Choice Camping Dutch Oven

Lodge Cast Iron Cook-It-All

Another killer dutchoven camp cooking system from Lodge. When they say do-it-all, they mean it. This thing can cook about anything from pasta to pizza, cobblers and beyond. Once again bang for your buck. Especially if you take care of your Dutch oven, it will last generations. 


  • 5 Cooking features
  • 14 inch griddle/grill
  • Wok and Lid
  • 2 Handles

This griddle system kicks a thousands booties in 5 different ways. Griddle it, grill it, soup it on a cold day. The double functional lid aspect makes cooking in the campfire simple and having 2 handles to pull it out of the fire is a bonus. 

Best Budget Cast Iron for camping

GSI Outdoors Guidecast Dutch Oven - 5 qt.

GSI, a king of camp cooking brings another great product. It's a classic dutchoven with some modern features. This pot is thick and robust. If you take care of it, your' great-grandchildren will enjoy it long after we're gone. 

The feet and handle are what really makes this cast iron a favorite. Not to mention it's affordable price. It works great in the campfire and you can set it on a table and not melt it!


  • Nitrided surface treatment for corrosion prevention
  • 5 Quart Volume
  • Firestand Legs and a top handle

Buyers Guide for Camp Cooking with a Dutch Oven

What to Look for in a Cast Iron Skillet or Pot?

Quality of Materials

The biggest thing to look for in a quality skillet is materials and craftmanship. Lower quality models will not come partially seasoned and can be a pain to clean. This is even more frustrating when you're camping and washing dishes is a more difficult. 

If you buy quality you get quality, so there is no sense in skimping, It's a 100 year product and if we get the seasoning right the first time, cleaning is a breeze.

Size and Shape

These cast pots and skillets can range anywhere from 3 inches to 18 inches. But most people find these sizes to be the most versatile.  

  • 12 inch
  • 10 inch 
  • 8 inch

Depth of a Standard Dutch Oven

Generally this is in the 2-3 inch range for the skillets. With dutch ovens built for larger meals like cobblers and 1 pot dinners they are measured in quarts. The standard sizes range from  4-6 quarts.

This leaves plenty of room to feed 4-6 people, as 1 quart per person is a good rule of thumb. 

dutch oven

Pre-seasoned and Unseasoned Cast Iron

Seasoning a cast iron often seems like a huge task when buying a pan. However, the process is simple and takes an afternoon. 

Whether you decide to buy a pre-seasoned cast iron version or not. I would recommend doing it again yourself. Ultimately, this will make cleaning and maintaining the quality of your camp skillet much easier. 

How To Season Cast Iron Skillets?

  1. Heat your oven to 450 degrees
  2. Clean and dry your brand new cast iron
  3. Rub with canola oil or vegetable shortening (not butter but an oil with a high smoke point)
  4. Bake for 45 minutes upside down in the oven
  5. Let it cool for 30 minutes
  6. Repeat 2-4 times
  7. Presto! A rust resistant and non-stick pot or pan

I can't stress this enough, if you don't season the pan by baking the oil into the cast iron, it will be nightmare to clean. 

If you have an old rusty cast iron you can bring it back to life by using an abrasive like steel wool to remove the rust. After it's clean and dry, re-season it like a new pan. 

Cleaning Cast Iron

Generally, if you seasoned the pan there will be no need for soap. Just hot water and a little elbow grease. But if you have to, use a small amount of mild soap and water. 

If stuck on grub grime is still in the bottom of the pan. Use a pan scraper to get rid of it. 

And if you really have food crusted on. Boil some water in it for 15 minutes and it should come off no problem. 

No one wants to have to clean longer than they cook, so once again season that puppy up. And no, not the dog.

What to cook camping in cast iron?

The beauty of this style of pan or pot is that you can cook almost anything with cast iron. 

  • Breakfast hash with bacon and potatoes
  • Shredded beef or pork tacos
  • Dutch oven potatoes of course
  • Classic Cobblers (peaches + cake mix) all you need

And almost anything under the sun, or the moon. It holds heat and distributes that heat incredibly well. I use my cast iron camping and at home. Some things never need improving. 


Can you clean cast iron with coke?

Why yes you can! Coke is an affordable way to get rid or rust on your skillet. Not the best for the teeth but it can strip some rust!

How often to I need to season cast iron?

If well taken care of, generally 2 times a year will maintain it's seasoning.

What are the advantages of cast iron cookware?
  • Heat Retention
  • Durability
  • Longevity
  • Gets Better Every time you Cook
should I preheat heat my Dutch Oven?

Most manufacturers will say to not pre-heat an empty dutch oven. This can damage the coating and or seasoning you have on the pot. 

Michael Bryant

About the author

After a lifetime spent in the outdoors and 10 years in the outdoor sports industry, I figured out what I'm best at. Finding great mentors to show me the ropes. Without the Lifers that taught me all I know, I wouldn't be where I'm at, which is... "pretty solid" at most adventures outside.

Mentors are the best way to access the backcountry. Learn with us.